“History lecture” by Mahmoud Abbas: At the opening of the PNC session, Mahmoud Abbas delivered a speech of fake history and anti-Semitism

Mahmoud Abbas delivering a speech at the opening of the PNC in Ramallah (WAFA’s YouTube channel, April 30, 2018)

Mahmoud Abbas delivering a speech at the opening of the PNC in Ramallah (WAFA’s YouTube channel, April 30, 2018)


The deliberations of the 23rd Palestinian National Congress (PNC) started on April 30, 2018, in Ramallah. At the opening of the Congress, Mahmoud Abbas delivered a long speech, which included many topics. One of them, to which he dedicated about 20 minutes of his speech, was a “history lecture” replete with fake history. This part of the speech, which was full of inaccuracies and distorted names and dates, dealt with denying the connection of the Jews to the Land of Israel. All this was intended to refute the existence of a Jewish people, deny its connection to the Land of Israel, and thus strengthen (in Abbas’s opinion) Palestinian nationalism. The speech included anti-Semitic elements serving Abbas’s political arguments, such as his saying that in Europe, Jews were hated only because of their social function and their engagement “in usury, in banking and such.”

  • According to Mahmoud Abbas, the establishment of the State of Israel was a “colonial project,” behind which there were Christian countries. These countries hated the Jews and wished to get rid of their presence on their territory. The project, according to Abbas, was also intended to sow fear in the Arab world by the colonialist powers. Abbas referred to the roots of Ashkenazi European Jews by quoting a Jewish historian who wrote about the Khazar kingdom. According to that historian, this kingdom once embraced Judaism, and later it disintegrated, and its entire people was dispersed throughout Europe. According to Mahmoud Abbas, the Khazars are actually what is called “Ashkenazi Jews,” and they have no connection to the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
  • Abbas also compared the treatment received by European Jewry to the treatment received by Jews who were living in Arab countries. According to what he (falsely) claimed, Jews in Arab countries never suffered any attacks throughout all 1,400 years during which they had lived among Arabs.

Palestinian National Congress convenes in Ramallah (WAFA, April 30, 2018)

Similar motifs of fake history spread by Mahmoud Abbas also appear in a speech delivered by Abbas at the opening of the PLO’s Central Council (January 14, 2018). In this speech too, he claims that the State of Israel is a Western “colonialist project.” The purpose of the fake history spread by Mahmoud Abbas is to delegitimize the very existence of a Jewish people and its connection to the Land of Israel, and at the same time strengthen Palestinian nationalism and provide a solid foundation for the Palestinians’ exclusive “right” to the Land of Israel. These statements by Abbas, which spread hate for the Jewish People and sabotage any chance for reconciliation and peace between the Palestinians and Israel, were harshly criticized by the US and European countries.

  • Mahmoud Abbas notes that he brought up the “historic review” in response to the “fake story which Israel is trying to disseminate.” He claims that everything he said was based on books written by Jews. Abbas ends his fake “history review,” which denies the existence of a Jewish people and its connection to the Land of Israel, by calling to embrace the two-state solution: “We do not say let’s eradicate them. [We say] let’s live with them based on two states.”
  • For selected excerpts from Mahmoud Abbas’s “historic” review, see the Appendix.
Excerpts from Mahmoud Abbas’s speech (WAFA, April 30, 2018)

The origin of Ashkenazi Jews: Mahmoud Abbas uses a theory which appears in the book “The Thirteenth Tribe” by Arthur Koestler, an Austro-Hungarian British author and thinker.[1] He wishes to “prove” that Ashkenazi Jews did not originate from the three patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and that they are not the descendants of the Jewish People exiled from its land. According to him, they originate from the Khazars (of Tatar descent), who were dispersed in the countries of Europe after the collapse of their kingdom.

  • Summary of Mahmoud Abbas’s statement: The author Arthur Koestler, a Zionist American Jew [This is incorrect: Koestler was Austro-Hungarian and lived in London], who wrote a book about “the 13th tribe”; that is, Jacob had 13 children [Abbas is referring to the Twelve Tribes of Israel]. Where did the 13th [tribe] come from? It was “invented” in the Khazar kingdom in the 9th century.[2] This kingdom was not religious and then became Jewish. [It] embraced Judaism, disintegrated, and all its people immigrated to Europe, and these are the Ashkenazi Jews. They have no relation to Abraham, nor do they relate to Jacob. [It] was a Tatar, Turkic, unreligious state, which became Jewish. The Jews then started to talk about the Promised Land. Mahmoud Abbas then notes: “These are not my own words, but the words of Arthur Koestler, the Zionist American Jew.”

Origins of hatred for the Jews: Mahmoud Abbas reiterates the anti-Semitic arguments, according to which animosity toward the Jews stems mainly from their social behavior and from economic reasons. According to him, the hate stems from their engagement in usury and banking. Due to that, he says, Jews in European countries have been exposed to pogroms. He claims that the Jews in Arab countries had not suffered from violent attacks during all the years. This is incorrect. By saying this, he ignores many incidents such as the Blood Libel of Damascus (19th century) or the pogrom (Farhud) carried out against the Jewish population of Baghdad, Iraq, in 1941.

  • Summary of Mahmoud Abbas’s statement: It is the Jews who left for Eastern and Western Europe who were slaughtered every 10-15 years by one of the countries, since the 11th century until the Holocaust that happened in Germany. Why did this happen? They [i.e., the Jews] say “because we are Jews.” I wish to present three Jews from three books, and they are Joseph Stalin [Incorrect. During the speech, people tell Abbas that Stalin was not a Jew and he replaces Stalin’s name with that of Karl Marx]. He also mentions two additional names [Abraham and Isaac Notshard; it is not clear to whom he refers]. The three of them say that the hatred for the Jews is not because of their religion but because of their social function. That is to say, the hatred for the Jews, which was widespread in all of Europe, was because of usury and the banks. The proof for that is [found] in the Jews who had lived in Arab countries. Unlike in Europe, there hasn’t been a single problem against the Jews in the Arab homeland for 1,400 years due to their being Jews [Incorrect].

The Jews’ connection to the Land of Israel: The State of Israel was not established by the Jews because of their longing for Zion but by European leaders who regarded that as the solution to the Jewish problem and a means to get rid of the presence of the Jews in their countries [i.e., reiteration of the argument that the establishment of the State of Israel is a “colonialist project” rather than a result of the Jews’ connection to the Land of Israel].

  • Summary of Mahmoud Abbas’s statement: They [the Jews] speak about longing for Zion. History has it that [the subject of] the Jewish homeland is untrue. The proof of that is that the first to call for the establishment of a Jewish state [was] the British leader [Oliver] Cromwell, in 1653. He said that they wished to establish a Jewish state in Palestine, but no one listened to him. Then, Napoleon Bonaparte and Churchill’s grandfather in 1840, and then the consul of the United States in Jerusalem, in 1850. They [all] called for the emigration of the Jews to Palestine. All those who called for [the establishment of] a Jewish state were not Jews. Why? What was all this for?

The Balfour Declaration: Mahmoud Abbas specifies his interpretation to the reason for which Balfour published his declaration, in spite of his hatred for the Jews. He claims that the Balfour Declaration was issued as part of a British “imperialist project,” which was intended to leave the countries of the Eastern and Southern Mediterranean divided and backward by “planting” a foreign people (the Jews) east of the Suez.

  • Summary of Mahmoud Abbas’s statement: We [now] come to [Lord] Balfour, even before he published his declaration in 1917. In 1903, when Balfour was the Prime Minister of Britain, he issued a resolution to prevent the Jews from entering Britain because of his hate for the Jews. Afterwards, Balfour published his declaration, which was accepted in cooperation with the US President and in consultation with the presidents of France and Italy. He consulted with four countries. This is where we arrive at the issue of British Prime Minister Campbell-Bannerman.[3] In 1905, there was a meeting between the prime ministers, foreign ministers and defense ministers of Western European countries, except Germany. The issue was that the European civilization was on the verge of collapse, and those who might take its place were the countries of the Eastern and Southern Mediterranean, due to their strategic location. In order to prevent that, these countries should be left divided [at] war with each other, and backward. This is how we are today. As a quick solution, [it was decided] that east of Suez there was a need “to plant” a foreign people, the Jews. This is what the Balfour Declaration was made for. Britain accepted and implemented it in 1947, with the partition resolution. Mahmoud Abbas reiterates once again that this was an “imperialist project.”

Hitler was partner to the “imperialist project” of establishing the State of Israel: As part of the “colonialist project,” Hitler too, who wished that the Jewish People be loyal to him, encouraged the emigration of Jews to Palestine. Hitler even offered the Jews compensation in return for emigration from Europe to Palestine, including the possibility that they would take their possessions with them. According to Mahmoud Abbas, this allowed wealthy Jews in Germany to emigrate from it [Abbas does not relate at all to Hitler’s fundamental anti-Semitism and obsessive hate for the Jews].

  • Summary of Mahmoud Abbas’s statement: I wish to surprise you. Some of you know this, others don’t. In 1933, immediately after Hitler came to power, within a month, an agreement was signed between the German Ministry of Economy and Anglo-Palestine Bank in Jerusalem, according to which any German Jew who wished to immigrate to Palestine, his money and assets would be transferred to him. And whoever didn’t want to immigrate to Palestine was given a ticket to Belgium. What was Hitler’s interest in doing this? He wished to have the Jewish People loyal to him, and that is why for six years, about sixty thousand Germans immigrated to Palestine at that time. Balfour hated the Jews, but later established a state for them. The Russian foreign minister, [who was] known for his hate for the Jews, wanted to establish a state for them in Palestine. Mahmoud Abbas reiterates the argument that the establishment of the state was an “imperialist project” [shared by Germany], whose aim was “to plant” a foreign entity in this region.
Mahmoud Abbas’s apology
  • On May 4, 2018, the Palestinian WAFA News Agency released an announcement of apology by Mahmoud Abbas. The apology announcement reads as follows (the text is from the WAFA Agency, May 4, 2018):
  • President Mahmoud Abbas stated on Friday that “if people were offended by my statement in front of the PNC, especially people of the Jewish faith, I apologize to them. I would like to assure everyone that it was not my intention to do so, and to reiterate my full respect for the Jewish faith, as well as other monotheistic faiths.” He continued, “I would also like to reiterate our long-held condemnation of the Holocaust, as the most heinous crime in history, and express our sympathy with its victims.”
  • “Likewise, we condemn anti-Semitism in all its forms, and confirm our commitment to the two-state solution, and to live side by side in peace and security.”

Mahmoud Abbas’s apology was published in a written message rather than in his voice. It was intended to calm the storm triggered by his anti-Semitic remarks, including among countries, figures and media outlets which are usually pro-Palestinian. It should be noted that the apology referred to the anti-Semitic remarks in his speech and not to the fake history which denied the very existence of the Jewish People and its connection to the Land of Israel.

[1] Austro-Hungarian British author, political thinker and social philosopher (1905-1983). Among other things, he had served as the personal secretary of Vladimir Jabotinsky, a prominent leader of early Zionism. His writings were usually contradictory to the mainstream opinions in his time. In his book, “The Thirteenth Tribe,” mentioned by Mahmoud Abbas in his speech, he was trying to promote a theory according to which, Ashkenazi Jewry does not originate from the ancient Hebrews but from the Khazars. According to Koestler, he wrote this book in order to undermine the basis for anti-Semitism by severing the connection of Ashkenazi Jews to the Hebrews who allegedly murdered Jesus (Wikipedia and other sources).
[2] The Khazar kingdom existed between the 7th century and the early 11th century.

[3] Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman was a British statesman from the Liberal Party who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1905 to 1908.